First Reading: Sir 3: 2-6, 12-14
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 128: 1-4
Second Reading: Col 3: 12-21
Gospel: Lk 2: 41-52
When I was younger, I would often be at home for the Feast of the Holy Family and would sit between my parents at Mass. When today’s first reading was proclaimed, my Dad would almost always elbow me to be sure I was paying attention. It has become a memory I cherish. During those same liturgies, however, I frequently heard homilies that could only result in feelings of guilt that one’s family did not quite measure up to the standards of the Holy Family. Because the expectations were so unrealistic, I fear that they were dismissed by most of the congregation without much thought.
No matter what our family looks like or how it may struggle or fail, it is still our family. We are called to extend love, honor, assistance and forgiveness whenever and however we can. The Holy Family was an ordinary human family with trials, joys and sorrows. They experienced the oppression of Roman occupation, depended on the generosity of others for a place for Jesus to be born, became refugees in Egypt and had a missing child for three days. As we reflect on these readings and this feast, let’s try to see Jesus, Mary and Joseph as they really were. It will help us to accept them as true models of dependence on God, faith in adversity and courage against obstacles. It will help us to acknowledge the needs of our own families and to commend them to God’s loving care.. May God bless our efforts to strengthen our familial bonds and to reach out to all who are part of our human family and earth community.
God of love, we thank you for the gift and example of the Holy Family, and for the rich diversity of families that make up our earth community. We pray today for all families in need. May they find food, shelter, healing, safety, acceptance and love. May we be instruments of reconciliation and compassion in our homes, our communities and our world. Amen.
Maureen Irvin, osf